Donald Trump on stage
Donors in liberal Silicon Valley are undergoing a cultural shift, with some growing critical of Joe Biden and considering backing Donald Trump instead © 2024 Getty Images

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Good morning and welcome to US Election Countdown — Memorial Day marked the unofficial start of summer in the US over the weekend. We hope you had a good one! Today we’re talking about: 

  • Tech donors warming to Trump

  • Why the ‘bond king’ favours Biden

  • Trump courts Black voters

Donald Trump is winning over donors in Silicon Valley.

Long considered a hotbed of liberal dollars, the valley is undergoing a cultural shift as tech elites fret over issues such as free speech, technology regulation and taxes. Some are growing critical of Joe Biden and are considering backing Trump instead, if they haven’t already done so [free to read].

Next week, tech investors David Sacks and Chamath Palihapitiya, co-hosts of the popular All-In podcast, are holding a dinner in San Francisco that will cost at least $50,000 per person. For the VIP experience featuring “preferred seating” and a photo with Trump, guests must cough up $300,000.

Palmer Luckey, who founded defence company Anduril and Oculus VR, is also planning an event for Trump in Newport Beach, California.

In 2020, there were about 2.8 Biden donors for every Trump donor in Silicon Valley, with a ratio of 3.9 to 1 in the wider Bay Area, according to an FT analysis. So far in 2024, there are 2.6 Biden donors for every Trump donor, while the Bay Area ratio has dropped to 3.3 to 1.

Palantir executive Jacob Helberg gave hundreds of thousands of dollars to Biden’s 2020 campaign, but recently gave $1mn to Trump, citing the ex-president’s border policies and his pro-Israel and anti-China stances.

Helberg told the FT:

When people like Palmer [Luckey], myself or David Sacks are openly out in support of Trump, we’re not facing the same kinds of reactions and backlash that we would have eight years ago.

The biggest Silicon Valley get would be Elon Musk, and pro-Trump tech leaders are trying to get him to endorse the Republican.

Over on Wall Street, Blackstone chief executive Stephen Schwarzman endorsed Trump, in the latest sign of Trump’s former critics coalescing around him. The private equity billionaire’s announcement could lead to more Wall Street money flowing into Trump’s coffers.

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Behind the scenes

Bill Gross
Pimco co-founder Bill Gross told the FT that Donald Trump would increase the US deficit and that his election would be ‘more disruptive’ © Bloomberg

Despite the growing enthusiasm for Trump among deep-pocketed donors, fixed-income investor Bill Gross thinks a second White House stint for the Republican would disrupt the bond market more than a Biden win.

Gross, who co-founded Pimco and is known as the “bond king” of Wall Street, told the FT’s Brooke Masters that Trump would increase the US deficit.

“Trump is the more bearish of the candidates simply because his programmes advocate continued tax cuts and more expensive things,” he said. “Trump’s election would be more disruptive.”

With Biden struggling to get credit for a booming economy while Americans are weighed down financially by high prices, Trump has made his economic plans a central pillar of his campaign. But Gross’s comments undercut Trump’s argument that he would be a better steward of the US economy and financial markets than Biden.

The ex-president has pledged to make his 2017 tax cuts permanent, which the Committee for a Responsible Budget thank-tank projects would cost $4tn over the next 10 years.


Recent polling suggests that support for Trump among Black voters could hit 20 per cent this election cycle, almost double what it was in 2020. Hitting that number would be the best Republican performance among this group since 1964.

Historically, Black voters have overwhelmingly supported the Democratic party — and still have more confidence in Biden than Trump overall — but Biden appears to be in danger of losing some of these critical backers.

Line chart of % who identify as or lean toward ...	 showing Black voters are overwhelmingly affiliated with the Democratic party

Late last week, Trump held a rally in the Crotona Park neighbourhood of the Bronx to try to woo some Black and Latino voters, telling them that their interests were being superseded by an influx of migrants into the city.

Both groups were being “slaughtered”, Trump said. “They’re losing their jobs, losing their housing, losing everything they can lose.” 

Some rally attendees who voted for Democrats in the past feel left behind, and have lost confidence in the party to make things better.

“The Bronx is getting horrible now,” Kevin Seecharan, a Trinidadian immigrant who has lived in the borough for 30 years, told the FT’s Joshua Chaffin. He said Crotona Park was deteriorating and he had no faith in Democrats to reverse its fortunes.

And the way retired city worker Margarita Rosario sees it, “there’s no money for veterans, and now we’ve got all this money for immigrants”.


  • Rana Foroohar ponders what the antitrust cases against Google mean for democracy

  • US political polarisation makes it seem as if renewable energy remains a divisive topic, but the deeply red state of Texas has become a model for green energy, notes John Burn-Murdoch.  

  • The abortion issue is Democrats’ best shot in this election cycle, say political analysts Lakshya Jain and Harrison Lavelle, and they are spending a ton of money on it. (NYT)

  • While “Bidenism” struggles in the US, the UK’s Labour party is drawing inspiration from the president’s 2020 campaign — though they should be careful, writes Alexander Burns. (Politico Magazine)

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